We are leaving for a Russian river cruise on Sept 27th and I am wondering if we should get rubles here in the US at the bank or just wait and use an ATM machine in Russia for our first rubles?
I don't think you'll find any bank that has a supply of rubles handy. So I would wait till you get there.
We got a thousand dollars worth of Ukranian hryvnias last August through Triple A so I'm sure rubles will be available the same way. If you buy a thousand dollars worth there is no handling fee.
At least the last time I checked a few years ago, Russia has strict currency controls, and I doubt Mr. Putin has decided to loosen the state's authority over the monetary supply since. You can only (legally) obtain rubles within Russia. Technically, you're not even supposed to take any rubles outside of the country, although most visitors probably leave with some leftover small change.
The answer to this is the same as for any other currency abroad. Use a bank-owned ATM as soon as you get there. And this will cost you the interbank rate and no fees. The only fee being from your own bank if you are banking with an institution that charges fees for ATM use.
Our son just spent the spring semester in Russia in ST. Petersburg and there was never a problem with this method, nor a fee.
While I agree getting your cash from an ATM is both cheap and convenient, I bought Rubles at Marks & Spenncers in Scotland without any problem. The only probloem I did incur was changing them back when I retuurned as I did not realize they did not accept lower denomination notes. I forget the amount, but I only had small ones and it really did not amount to much. I left them with my sister who gave them to a friend who lives in Russia.
You "bought" rubles at Marks and Spencer? I would really like to know the amount you bought, and what you paid for them - and also the date so we can see what the real exchange rate was that day. Only with these three figures can we see how much extra you paid. the bottom line is that you can always "buy" currency almost anywhere. But at what price? When the exchange rate I just looked up says that 1 British Pound equals 51.86 rubles, how many rubles do you actually get when you purchase them?
It may be a convenience, but all it actually is is giving money away to the banks. They don't need it, there are many better and actual charities there if you want to give away money.
Here are the current M&S exchange rates. http://bank.marksandspencer.com/banking/travel-money/overview/#currency-exchange-rates
If you bought them at M&S using dollars, you got a double whammy.
I bought the rubles at M&S with GBP as I have funds there. I realized I was not getting a bargain, but I was stopping ion St. Peterburg on a cruise and had arranged a private tour so did not know if I would be in a position to access an ATM. I was paying for convenience. M&S has the "advantage" of buying back unused currncey at the same rate as they sold it to you, though, as I indicated, I was not able to use this. I was also able to sell some of the Rubles to fellow passengers who discovered they could not use US$ as some stores. The only reason for my post was to indicate that Rubles ARE available outside of Russia. I am disappointed that I have to justify my particular position on this board which is supposed to HELP people, not a carping column.
Yes, this board is supposed to help people. And if you search here you will find many confused questions from people regarding obtaining foreign currency, in spite of the same answers repeated many times as to how to best do this. Advising how to get money at a 10% mark-up is helping how?
(Not to mention the added cost of getting from Wilmington, Delaware to London...)
Per that M and S web page, 1 pound buys 47.3 rubles, when the posted exchange rate would get 51.86. The M and S rate loses 10.7%, getting from an ATM costs under 1%
As I said, aren't there better places to give your unnecessary excess money to?
I really don't think it is necessary for anyone on this board to be so judgmental and rigid (almost to the point of rudeness) about another member's posts or suggestions, and/or how that other person chooses to spend his own money. Iain merely pointed out an alternative option to obtain rubles and he also pointed out its pitfalls. To some of us, convenience and time HAS a monetary value.
Iain, thank you. Your suggestion was very helpful. I have now learned a new source for currency exchange. Only I can decide if it is a good solution for ME.
If you don't get conflicting opinions and discussion to sort out the details ........ you'll never get to the bottom line to make an intelligent decision. There was a past discussion of the excellence of the Sainsburys ATMs. Somebody might couple that with the present Marks and Sparks comments and decide that the place to get a third currency is at the darn grocery store. If you have thin skin, hide and watch.
From "Cruiseportwiki/St Petersburg", under Money:
"...There are ATMs and currency exchange available in the cruise terminals at Marine Facade."
Basic Rule of Getting Money Anywhere: There is not an international port or airport anywhere in the world that does not have a way to dish out cash. Worst case is that you'll have to settle for a rate like Iain got for the first little chunk until you find a bank ATM to get the big gobs. Larry's ten percent won't bust the bank if you only swap out a hundred bucks to get going initially. Unless you're a Timid Traveler and need to have the jingle in your jeans for comfort as you cross the border, there's never a need to get money ahead of time.
I purchased Rubles from Travelex before I left home and then cashed the extra in when I returned home. No problem getting rubles and no problem with the exchange in the U.S.